Saturday, November 04, 2006

How hard can it be to pay the phone bill?

Text Crazy!
Originally uploaded by Major Clanger.

I hadn't realized how complicated my life had got until I tried to pay some phone bills last week. It took 3 phone calls (2 international) and 3 on-line customer support sites just to pay a small phone bill.

It all seemed so simple: the credit card I used to auto-pay my US long distance plan had expired - it was also the same credit card I used on a UK long distance plan I also pay for. All I needed to do was change the date on both and everything would be fine.

Part 1 (Monday UK account online crap): Their on-line system won't let me log in because I don't have a UK postcode, I emailed customer support. They say there is no way they can make it work so I need to call them (which costs me money!). Their office hours are lame so I'll have to get up at 6am to call them. Aha! But... I can't call them because the US one keeps telling me I need to re-charge even thought I do have some money in the account... so, I need to do that first.

Part 2 (Tuesday US 5:30am): The US phone company's on-line site won't accept the new credit card, so I called, they entered the details and 30 minutes later it failed. So much for getting up early. I used a different card and that worked, but it wasn't the card I wanted to use.

Part 3 (Tuesday First UK phone call): I called the UK company's customer support. None of my credit cards will work because they don't a UK postcodes (they worked before! WTF!). Their call center seems to have been outsourced to India and we can't understand each other. For example, I ask "Do you take American Express?" they respond "Yes" but when I give the number they say "We can't take credit card that starts with a "3"". So they don't. Why did they say yes?

Part 4 (Tuesday Second UK phone call): I remembered that I have a UK credit card, so I called them back later that day as I found a spare moment, between the shouting matches and meetings (work). That didn't work either. So basically my only option now is to send a UK cheque which will take a week and will mean I have to go to a post office. The phone bill is actually for 15 quid, 10 quid is an "over due charge", I'm sure the cheque won't arrive in time.

Part 5 (Tuesday Online banking): Eureka! (Maybe...) My UK bank has an on-line banking system which will make instant payments! I type in the name of the phone company and it matches 3 different companies, I can't tell which one is mine as they don't have addresses or other information. So, I email the bank and wait....

Part 6 (Saturday) They responded and tell me which one it is! Yeah, I can finally pay. So, I've paid, but I have a nagging suspicion that it could still be the wrong company. Sigh.

One thing I did do: I set up an "automatic direct debit payment" for the UK phone bill, so hopefully I'll never have to do that again. (They chard an extra 1.50 if you don't do this - this is more than the phone call charges!). I just have to remember to keep money in my UK bank account. That is completely different problem - I have to actually go into the US bank and wire the cash, but I least I don't have to do that very often...

The moral of the story: globalization isn't quite there's the little things that make changing your country of residence difficult!

No comments: